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November 30, 2012

News Briefs – November 30, 2012

Boeing engineers union likely to back mediation

 

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace is likely to agree to mediated talks with Boeing, Reuter is reporting.

Nov. 29, Boeing asked for U.S. mediators to resolve talks with the union in a bid to resolve the stand-off between the two parties.

The SPEEA represents 23,000 engineers and says the sides are ‘far apart’ on pay and benefits. Boeings move stopped discussions between the company and the union about midday Nov. 29 and no further meetings are scheduled. Union contracts with Boeing expire Dec. 2.

“We will almost certainly agree to some type of mediation, but we find the company’s position confusing,” Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director, said in an email to Reuters.

Goforth said Chicago-based Boeing had not responded to many union proposals and that a lot work was left to do.

“We view this action on their part as a stunt to distract people from the proposed pay and benefit cuts,” Goforth added.

The union has balked at a Boeing contract that it says would cut the growth rate of compensation of professional and technical employees. Boeing says its latest offer is much improved over its initial proposal and reflects a tough competitive environment.

 

U.S. seeks expanded military ties with Indonesia

 

A senior U.S. official says Washington should expand its military ties with Indonesia, befitting a relationship between two robust democracies.

Top diplomat for East Asia, Kurt Campbell, said those ties have grown in recent years, but not fast enough.

Campbell was speaking Nov. 27 at a gathering of the U.S.-Indonesia Society in Washington.

The U.S. severed military ties for several years after of Indonesia’s bloody crackdown in East Timor in 1999. Jakarta has since sought to professionalize and modernize its military. Key U.S. restrictions on engagement with Indonesia’s feared special forces were lifted in 2010.

Human rights groups say Indonesia’s military abuse continues, particularly in the restive province of west Papua.

Campbell also advocated deeper ties between the two governments and praised Jakarta’s leadership in regional diplomacy. AP

 

NATO visits southeast Turkey for Patriot missiles

 

Turkey’s state-run agency says a NATO team surveying sites for the possible deployment of Patriot missiles has inspected military installations in a province in southeastern Turkey.

NATO member Turkey asked allies to deploy the missiles as a defense against any aerial attack from Syria. The country is believed to have several hundred ballistic surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads.

The Anadolu Agency says the delegation visited military facilities in Malatya province, some 124.28 miles from the Syrian border Nov. 28. The province is already home to an early warning radar that is part of NATO missile defense system capable of countering ballistic missile threats from Iran.

Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S. have the advanced PAC-3 model Patriots that Turkey wants for intercepting ballistic missiles. AP

 

Contractors say spacecraft cracks can be fixed

 

Contractors say cracks in a spacecraft tested in Colorado can be easily fixed.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems says the crew-capsule design of NASA’s Orion spacecraft is sound, even though three structural cracks were found during pressure testing of the first flight model at Kennedy Space Center.

NASA program manager Mark Geyer says the capsule should not have cracked, but the problem can be easily fixed by redesigning stress points.

According to the Denver Post, the problems were discussed during a meeting Nov. 27 at the Colorado plant where the capsule is being tested.

The first scheduled orbital launch date is September 2014. AP

 




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